I'd never heard of Cobra, the manga or the anime series, before watching this feature so imagine my confusion when presented with all the random space madness this little goofy flick had to offer!
Following the exploits of Cobra, some blond, cigar-smoking dude with a "Psycho-Gun" embedded in his arm who goes around fighting evil space Guilds or whatever, Space Adventure Cobra is a surreal action flick that's kind of a cross between some cheesy 70's cop show, Zardoz and Star Wars. Ok, maybe not Zardoz, so much. Actually, the character of Cobra was inspired by French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo, who was mostly famous in the 70's for OTT action thrillers. Cobra's partner is a mouthless robot gal called Lady Armaroid, she's usually in charge of piloting the ship, secretly lusting after Cobra and exposition dialog. There's an obvious charm to Space Adventure Cobra: it's corny as hell but in a good way. You've got a tough guy who smokes cigars and spouts out corny one-liners, sexy space ladies (triplets) wearing not very much at all when they are wearing something, a Yoda-style mentor in a bubble, snow gorillas, a James Bond opening titles sequence, funky music and an arch-enemy amusingly called Crystal Boy, easily one of the least threatening bad guy names ever. The latter's design and look is kinda cool, though. The guy's made of glass, gold, claws, guns, you name it: he's made of it. Think Flash Gordon meets Barbarella with a dash of Star Wars and Space Pirate Captain Harlock thrown in and you've got a decent idea of what to expect from Space Adventure Cobra.
The plot is appropriately ludicrous and kinda confusing unless you've read the manga but essentially it boils down to a sort of treasure hunt, something about finding an Ultimate Weapon, Crystal Boy wanting to destroy an entire galaxy and Cobra butting heads with snow gorillas (don't ask) while getting friendly with those Royal triplets (Royal's their last name, except in the English dub where it's Flower). I wouldn't say that this feature is particularly kid friendly as, apart from several fun action sequences and the light-hearted, wise-cracking Lupin The Third-style protagonist, it's mostly a little trippy, busy and gratuitous. With the amount of random nudity this movie has and the odd unexpected violent moment plus the fact Crystal Boy is creeeeepy, this is one for older viewers. That said, it is pretty funny and very entertaining so anyone can get a kick out of it. What lets the film down a bit, is its animation which feels a little saturday morning cartoonish sometimes but even that type of cheesiness works quite well with the feature's trashy genre. Unless you're a fan of pulpy, goofy 70's/80's sci-fi then you'll probably write this one off as too silly. It's a very silly flick, don't get me wrong, but, like I said, there's a simple charm to it and, as a good old-fashioned piece of pulp nonsense, it works.
I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy Space Adventure Cobra. It may look and sound a bit clunky at times and it's all pretty ridiculous but it's very fun. Hey, worst comes to worst, you'll get a good laugh out of it, so if you do find it, why not check it out?
Enjoyable 80's space opera randomness.